Hike Tom's Thumb

Toms Thumb Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Kevin Kaminski

Fun day hike. Rock formations. Great summit views. Great trail run. 4.2 miles roundtrip. Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet.

Tom’s Thumb is a super fun, popular hike in the Scottsdale McDowell Mountain Sonoran Preserve. The infamous “thumb” can be seen from most places in the valley – a white burst of rock jutting skyward out of the desert ridgeline.  

The new Tom’s Thumb Trailhead in 2012 has nice restrooms and offers tons of information about the surrounding rock climbing areas, day hikes and desert knowledge about the flora and fauna. Since this area is a bit removed from the city, you are likely to find some fellow wildlife on your travel (lots of bees and rattlers depending on time of year). The only thing this trailhead doesn’t have is water, so make sure to bring plenty.

Starting out on the valley floor, the trail climbs at a low steady grade to the ridge line along a well maintained, smooth gravel trail.  Just over the ridge, the landscape starts to fill with house-sized boulders and takes on an almost moon-like landscape. Follow the well marked signs toward Tom’s Thumb. Take notes of the passing signs directing you to off-shoot trails and rock climbing areas to plan out your next adventure here. After just under two miles of hiking you will reach the signed junction for the East End Trail and the base of Tom’s Thumb. Make a right and head towards the summit.  

This final section of the trail is not as well marked and will require a bit of scrambling, but the trail is still easy to follow – just head towards the largest rock you see!  Once to the top, you are finally greeted by the giant granite tower that is Tom’s Thumb.  The summit area is riddled with small alcoves and caves to explore – take the challenge and see if you can find Oger's Den! This is a great spot to grab your camera and snap some pics of all the rock formations, rest and refuel.  This is a straight-forward out-and-back trail, for a total of approximately 4.2 miles round trip with about a 1,000 foot elevation gain. 


Fitness, Photography, Running, Hiking

Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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Devin Finn

almost 4 years ago

This is an awesome trail!

My girlfriend and I hike this trail constantly and we love it! There are so many places to explore and some great rock climbing options as well. We love going to the Oger's Den and the Miner's Cave! The great thing I really enjoy about the McDowell Mountain Preserve is the trail choices, there is always something for everyone. We have seen Family's, Athletes, Kids, Elderly, and all sorts of people in-between hiking to the Thumb. It is so cool how there are areas to mountain bike, rock climb, go horseback riding, and so much more! One of our upcoming trips is the Tom's Thumb Trail head to the other side of the Preserve, it is over 10 miles of hiking!!!


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